Defiant teenagers who could be forced to stop skateboarding in areas of Leyland have vowed to fight the introduction of new byelaws.
South Ribble Council wants to ban people from skateboarding or playing ball games at Tesco’s car park and other town centre locations, following years of complaints from residents and shopkeepers of anti-social behaviour.
If approved by the Government, the byelaws would ban anyone from skateboarding, roller-skating or playing football in areas including Tesco’s car park in Towngate, and the nearby town square and Leyland Cross area.
The council’s cabinet committee voted through the initial report at a meeting last week, setting the wheels in motion towards getting the byelaws introduced.
They will need to be approved by full council and the government before they are officially implemented.
Cabinet member Phil Hamman, who is also the councillor for Leyland St Mary’s, said: “I have been involved in this for a while because the town square has been a meeting place for teens over the years.
“That in itself is not the problem, but over the last two years the skateboards and ball games have caused a lot of complaints from residents, and there has been some damage to the shops.
“One of the shop owners said that unless something happens, they will have to close their business, and that’s the last thing we want - empty shops.
“They’re losing customers and there has been thousands of pounds worth of damage.
“The police have been involved and they said they will support us on this.”
He added: “All the police can do is move them on, which causes more problems elsewhere.
“We’re very happy for the youths to meet there, at the town square, but we don’t want them playing football or skateboarding.”
But a group of teens, who were hanging out near to the official council ‘skate park’ behind Leyland Leisure Centre, which backs on to the Tesco car park, told the Guardian they are determined to fight the ‘ridiculous’ proposals.
“We’ve been coming here for years,” they said. “This is ridiculous.
“We’re not doing any harm.”
When asked why they don’t spend time in designated places such as the new Euxton skate park or the privately owned Leyland Warehouse, they replied: “We do go to Euxton sometimes but it’s a trek to go everyday. We’re from Leyland.
“We would go to the one in Leyland but we’re skint.
“We use the council’s one behind the leisure centre but it’s too small for all of us.
“Sometimes there are 60 of us here, and even when there are only 20, it’s still too small.
“We come here because the car park is flat and smooth, so it’s good for skating.”
They also said that when they try to move their hobby over to Worden Park, the police tell them to leave there too.
Questioned about if they thought the potential new byelaws would make any difference to the amount of people congregating at Tesco, they simply said: “Let them try.”
The group of about 20, who were aged between 14 and 21, added they are not the only ones who choose to spend their spare time at the Tesco car park, town square and Leyland Cross area.
And they argued they are not responsible for the anti-social behaviour described by business owners and the police, which includes damaging property, kicking footballs at windows, and intimidating shoppers.
“There are different groups who chill here,” they said. “It’s not us kicking off.”
- For more on this story, see this week’s Leyland Guardian.
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